Associate, Fred Clark provides comments to The Art Newspaper as images of the famous dress allegedly damaged by Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala have prompted fresh questions about the safeguarding of art and precious objects.

As a woman accidentally tripped and fell onto a work by Alberto Sánchez at Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofia last month, images of Marilyn Monroe’s “happy birthday Mr President” gown allegedly being damaged after being worn by Kim Kardashian were madly circulating online, and news broke of a man smashing up $5m-worth of artefacts in a museum in Dallas.

Aside from the obvious question—is nothing sacred anymore?—such incidents have prompted fresh questions over what rights creative professionals and artists have over the safeguarding of their work (including how it is treated, displayed and stored) once it has left them.

When the artist still owns the work in question, the situation is relatively straightforward. Rights under common law will ensure that “if someone is entrusted with a work, as bailee that person is under a duty to take reasonable care of the goods”, says Fred Clark, an associate at the law firm Boodle Hatfield. He adds: “If the work has been consigned, it may be that the artist can claim [against any loss or damage] via the terms of the contract, which might say the gallery or dealer will take care of the work until it is sold, or there could be an insurance policy to claim on.”

Read the full article published on 29 July 2022 in The Arts Newspaper.

Interested in hearing more? You can sign up to receive content from Boodle Hatfield by using the subscription link here.